Worship always supposes the will broken.
In the preceding chapters we have seen Abraham in Egypt, and we have remarked, that so long as he was there he built no altar; but he came out of it, and then, having abandoned Egypt, he could build an altar to the Lord.
David sees the child sick who is dear to him; then he fasts and prays, but he wrestles with God; his will was not submissive. When the child was dead, David changed his apparel, ate, drank, and could come to worship before the Lord, because the struggle that existed in his heart had ceased, and his will was broken.
Job, after those heavy afflictions, which are set before us in the first chapter, the loss of his substance and of his family, rends his mantle, it is true (chap. 1:20); he did not sin in that, the word tells us. His grief was lawful, he was permitted to grieve for the loss of his children; but he arises and worships before God. He can worship Him, because his will is broken, and he can say, “Jehovah gave and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.”
But in the chapter we have just read, we find something far above what we have in Job and David. They acquiesced in God’s will, but their submission was passive; it required of them no act. Not so in Genesis 22. Not only must Abraham accept God’s will, but, moreover, he must act against himself; he must, so to speak, sacrifice himself, for the sacrifice of his son was nothing short of that. God says to him, Offer up to me thy son, thine only son. The name of an individual contains in it for us all that concerns him and all our relations with him. “Thy son”—this word kindled in Abraham the tenderest of feelings; and he had to sacrifice that son! Nay, more; this name recalled to him the promises of God, and it was in this son they were to be fulfilled, for God had positively told him, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
But he whose will is subjected to God is satisfied of these two things. God will provide for it, and, I am with God. Every look to the flesh in the way of expectation, for the fulfilment of the promises, must be turned away, and God alone remain as the source of the life, the blessings, and the promise; as the One who never comes to the end of His resources, even in the very failure of all the means He Himself might have pointed out for the accomplishment of His promises.
God thus proves the heart, that all confidence in the flesh may be destroyed; but, at the same time, knowing that the heart needs to be sustained under the trial, he sustains it by a new revelation, which enables it to triumph. Thus, we see in Hebrews 11,:19 that Abraham, on the occasion of the sacrifice required of him, had a revelation concerning the resurrection, then so little known. It is thus that God, in His infinite mercy, causes us to gain in Himself what we lose in the flesh.
Far from those that accompanied him (that is, alone with Isaac and with God) Abraham received this revelation, and could offer the ram on the altar in the stead of his son, according as he had said, God will provide Himself a burnt-offering. It is thus that, in the secret of communion with God, we learn much of Him.
In Jesus, the true worshipper of the Father, the will was always broken. The cup was full of bitterness, as we know; but, in His desire to fulfil the will of God, He forgets, so to speak, this bitterness, and cries out, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”